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Greetings! My name is Matthew, and I love to listen to all types of metal. I'm a high school English teacher and aspiring writer. I also write reviews for the Metal Utopia webzine!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ferium - "Reflections" Review

Ferium - Reflections
Genre:  Hardcore/death metal


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Tiran Ezra (vocals)
Guy Goldenberg (guitar)
Elram Boxer (guitar)
Ron Amar (drums)
Yoni Biton (bass)

With an EP already under their belts, the band Ferium is ready to release their debut album Reflections on the world.  This Israeli band throws stereotypes out the window and refuses to be labeled by any one defining term.  There are elements of death metal, hardcore, and even groove metal throughout their debut album.  They line this with a fine progressive edge that intrigues the listener and makes the music more interesting.  Some influences are fairly obvious (with Meshuggah and Death leading the way), but most importantly, the band does not make itself a clone, producing its own sound and creativity.  Fans of bands such as Impending Doom and Whitechapel will also find something to enjoy on this record.
Overall, Reflections produces a vibe that is both apathetic and angry.  Ferium is not afraid to voice their opinion on matters, and this shows in the lyrics.  One can picture a middle-aged man, worn out and weary of the world, striking back at anything and everyone who would belittle him or seem to provide an easy solution to life.  Reflections certainly isn’t an album for the faint-of-heart.  While at the surface it appears to be just a case of angst, there is something deeper going on here.  Lines like “I dream / I am human” defy a simple solution and grasp at our inner selves.
But back to the music.  Breakdowns?  Check.  Melodic riffs?  Got those, too.  Tempo changes?  Sure, why not.  The music is very structured, and it’s obvious that the band has given a lot of thought as to the form of their songs.  A tune like “The Very Existence” demonstrates this.  Instead of just writing a few breakdowns and throwing in some gnarly growls, like half the bands out there, they retard (musical term, people) the breakdown and shape it into a breathtaking outro.  Vocalist Tiran Ezra refuses to be put into a box and his voice fluctuates through high and low pitches, providing depth and atmosphere to Reflections.  The guitar playing is very precise, and an occasional solo bursts through this firm wall of sonic sound to caress the eardrums.  Having two guitar players allows for intriguing background riffs that do a good job of complementing the rhythm guitar.  The drumming is adequate, and the bass balances the bottom of the band’s sound quite nicely.  Songs like “The Very Existence” and “Change of Winds” show moments of calculated, palm-muted chords with precise syncopation.  “The Black Eyes” is the calm before the storm, a slowly building instrumental with piano and atmospheric guitars.  It provides a welcome change of pace on Reflections, and hints that the band is maturing musically.  The album ends with the monolithic, self-titled song “Reflections,” which brings everything together with lightning-fast riffs and phenomenal bass playing.

But before the band sails off into the clouds, they should know that they are merely human.  To me, at least, there were a few things that Ferium could definitely improve on.  More melodic instrumentation within songs would be most welcome.  This helps to accent aggressive, heavy sections of the song by offering increased dynamic contrast.  I believe that Ferium has immense potential, and this might help steer the band in the right direction.  A more diverse percussion section would also help improve the band’s sound.  Not to say that the drums on this album aren’t proficient—but how sweet would it be to suddenly spasm into a drum solo in the middle of a song?  My final admonition is a more of a personal preference.  Although it may cater to a small, highly dedicated metal audience, saying “F***” every few lines was a bit off-putting to me.  I felt like it took away some of the powerful message in the lyrics.  I’m not saying that Ferium doesn’t have a right to say whatever they want, but that there are some fans who may be discouraged by this.  That and something that is used less often proves to be more powerful in the end. 
All in all, Ferium’s Reflections is a crimson juggernaut that will not be easily restrained or constrained into any one concise definition (pans over album art slowly).  Perhaps one day we will all overcome the beast within us.  Seriously, though.  If you are a fan of death metal or hardcore (or their fusion, deathcore), then you will probably find something to enjoy on this album.  Ferium deserves a chance, and you should give it to them.  

Overall rating:  8.0 out of 10.0 (Excellent)
Musicianship:  8.5 out of 10.0 
Song structure:  8.0 out of 10.0
Album structure:  7.5 out of 10.0


How did I come up with my rating?  I rate the following categories:  musicianship, song structure, and album structure.  I then take an average of these three scores and come up with an overall rating.

1.0-2.9 (Poor:  musicianship is poor, song structures are haphazard, no directional flow)
3.0-4.9 (Good:  musicianship is sloppy, song structures are undeveloped, flow is hampered)
5.0-6.9 (Average:  musicianship is adequate, song structures are good, flow works most of the time)
7.0-8.9 (Excellent:  musicianship is very good, song structures are thought out, songs connect well)
9.0-9.9 (Superior:  musicianship is superb, song structures are varied, flow is almost flawless)

Note:  Ratings may be given in increments of 0.1 for a final score (rounded up) and 0.5 for individual category scores.  I will never give a rating of 10.0 because I do not believe that any one album can be "perfect," and the ratings at either end of the spectrum will be very few.

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